PARIS, France (AlJazeera) – French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin ordered several Paris police officers suspended after the publication of videos showing them beating up a Black man and using tear gas against him with no apparent reason.
The incident came as President Emmanuel Macron’s government is pushing a new bill that restricts the ability to film police, which has prompted protests from civil liberties groups and journalists concerned that it would allow police brutality to go undiscovered and unpunished.
Videos published on Thursday by French news website Loopsider show the violent arrest of a music producer identified only by his first name, Michel, in the 17th arrondissement or district of the French capital on Saturday.
Three officers followed Michel inside his music studio after they apparently saw him walking in the street without wearing a mask, Loopsider reports. The published video images, both from a security camera inside the studio and filmed by neighbours outside, show officers repeatedly punching him and beating him with a truncheon.
The officers then left, called in reinforcements and threw a tear gas grenade into the studio to get those inside to come out, according to Loopsider. It reported that nine others who were recording music in the studio basement were also beaten. Michel told Loopsider that the officers hurled repeated racist insults at him, and he was taken in custody for 48 hours.
Darmanin tweeted that the body that investigates allegations of police misconduct, the Inspectorate General of the National Police, known by its French acronym IGPN, is looking into the case, saying, “I want disciplinary proceedings to be led as soon as possible.”
The Paris police prefecture said in a statement that IGPN would seek to establish the exact circumstances surrounding the man’s arrest.
The Paris prosecutor’s office is also investigating police actions. The prosecutor’s office said on Thursday it has dropped the proceedings against Michel opened on the day of his arrest, and instead opened an investigation for “acts of violence by a person in position of public authority” and “false declaration”.
It is the second such police brutality investigation in Paris this week prompted by video footage. The government ordered an internal police investigation on Tuesday after police officers were filmed tossing refugees and migrants out of tents and intentionally tripping one while evacuating a protest camp.
That same day, France’s lower house of parliament approved a draft law meant to strengthen local police and provide greater protection to all officers. It notably makes it a crime to publish images of officers with the intent to cause them harm. The bill, which enjoys public support after recent attacks, will now go to the Senate.